Royal West of England Academy trip June 2017

Air: Visualising the Invisible in British Art 1768-2017

This major exhibition of historic and contemporary art traces the tradition in British art of finding inspiration in the air around us and skies above us. 

Air explores how our interest in air and the sky has affected the work of British artists stretching across four centuries, encompassing representations of breath, the effects of the wind, and flying creatures (both real and imaginary).

Starting in the late eighteenth century Air charts the public’s fascination with experiments with air (including the development of air balloons), before progressing on to the industrial revolution, which introduced the concept of air pollution. The nineteenth century embraces intensive studies of clouds (newly classified by meteorologists), whilst the twentieth century encapsulates our wartime preoccupation with aeroplanes and the intriguing trails they left upon the skyscape. Later works consider the physical possibilities of flight which shifted our perceptions of the landscape as aerial photography expanded our view of the earth from above. 

Contemporary work introduces new environmental issues, making reference to climate change and air-borne disease, in addition to exploring air as an integral component to the process of making. Artists consider the relationship between art and science, combining painting, photography, sculpture, installation and film, to demonstrate how air is everywhere: essential to all our lives.